And what are we to make of poor Benedict XVI, the scholastic, who, in a disastrous display of public sensitivity, makes the telling point, that Christianity, in its long evolution to the present, has learned to forsake violence, and to defend its faith through appeals to reason—and thus can offer its own experience in the current crisis of Islam. And by quoting from the emperor rhetorician Manuel Paleologus—whose desperate efforts at strengthening the Morea and the Isthmus at Corinth a generation before that awful Tuesday, May 29, 1453 all came to naught—the Pope failed to grasp that under the tenets of radical Islam of the modern age, context means little, intent nothing, learning less than zero. If a sentence, indeed a mere phrase can be taken out of context, twisted, manipulated to show an absence of deference to Islam, furor ensues, death threats follow, assassins load their belts—even as the New York Times or the Guardian issues its sanctimonious apologies in the hope that the crocodile will eat them last.
We learned the now familiar rage with the Danish cartoons, Theo Van Gogh, the false flushed Koran story, the forced change of “Operation Infinite Justice” to “Enduring Freedom”, the constant charges of “Islamaphobia”, and a horde of other false grievances that so shook the West, traumatized in fear of having its skyscrapers, planes, trains, buses, nightclubs, and synagogues blown apart or its oil cut off.
So, yes, we know the asymmetrical rules: a state run-paper in Cairo or the West Bank, a lunatic Iranian mullah, a grand mufti from this or that mosque, can all rail about infidels, “pigs and apes”, in language reminiscent of the Third Reich—and meet with approval in the Middle East and silence in the West. But for a Westerner, a Tony Blair, George Bush, or Pope Benedict to even hint that something has gone terribly wrong with modern Islam, is to endure immediate furor and worse. In short, no modern ideology, no religious sect of the present age demands so much of others, so little of itself.
In matters of the present war, I have given up on most of the neoconservatives, many of whom, following the perceived pulse of the battlefield, have either renounced their decade-long, pre-September11 rants to remove Saddam (despite the 140,000 brave souls still on the field of battle who took them at their word), or turned on the President on grounds that he is not waging the perfect fight and thus is not pursuing the good war. The Paleo-right is as frightening as is the lunatic Left. My old Democratic party is long dead, their jackals trying to tear apart the solitary and stumbling noble stag Joe Liebermann, the old center taken over by the Kerry and Soros billionaires, and the guilt-ridden academic, celebrity and media cadres.
The photos are that of the Hagi Sofia in Istanbul and its last Emporer Constantine XI. Once upon a time it was the Church of the Divine Wisdom in a long dead city named Constantinople. Like the forgotten Emporer of that forgotten city, are we prepared to die fighting at the gates?